Sugar Plant Explosion Claims 11th Life

Imperial Sugar employee Ginger Faulconer, center, places hard hats on 10 wreaths during a memorial service Saturday Feb. 23, 2008 in Savannah, Ga. for the victims of a explosion at the plant earlier this month.
AP Photo/Stephen Morton
Another burn patient has died of injuries suffered in an explosion and fire at a sugar refinery, bringing the death toll to 11, officials said Sunday.

Two weeks after the blast at the Imperial Sugar plant in Port Wentworth, 12 other patients remain in critical condition at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center at Doctors Hospital in Augusta. Two are in serious condition.

A 15th patient, whose name was not released, died Saturday evening, bringing the total death toll from the incident to 11, said Beth Frits of the Burn Center.

A memorial had been held earlier in the day for the other victims, the 10th of whom died Friday.

The explosion was fueled by airborne sugar dust at the refinery, near Savannah, investigators have said. They have not yet determined what ignited it.

Company officials have refused to speculate on when the plant might reopen, saying structural engineers needed to examine the damage.

Imperial Sugar CEO John Sheptor has said the company will continue to pay employees for the time being, but would not say for how long.

More than 300 dust explosions have killed more than 120 works in grain silos, sugar plants and food processing plants over the past three decades. Most are preventable by removing fine dust as it builds up, experts say.